Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (play)

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Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Written by Ed Graczyk
Characters Juanita
Sue Ellen
Stella May
Edna Louise
Alice Ann
Date premiered September 1976 (1976-09)[1]
Place premiered Players' Theater, Columbus, Ohio[1]
Original language English
Genre Comedy-drama
Setting A five-and-dime store in Texas, 1955 and 1975

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a 1976 play by Ed Graczyk, originally performed at the Players' Theater in Columbus, Ohio. Despite the interpretation of the name in the title, it refers to the legendary "Rebel Without a Cause", James Dean, as opposed to Jimmy Dean, the country-western singer who had a hit in 1961 with Big Bad John. The play, in fact, revolves around a James Dean fan club that reunites at a Texas five-and-dime store.

In 1982, filmmaker Robert Altman directed both a Broadway version at the Martin Beck Theater[2] and a film adaptation of the same name. Altman's version of the play was not well-received with critics at the time.[3]:89


In Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, an all-female fan club called the Disciples of James Dean meets at a Woolworths five-and-dime branch in McCarthy, Texas.[1] The group reunites in 1975 to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Dean's death. (In 1955, the actor was filming Giant in Marfa, not far from where the store stands.)[2]


Name Character Source
Sudie Bond Juanita [2]
Cher Sissy
Sandy Dennis Mona
Mark Patton Joe
Gena Ramsel Sue Ellen
Kathy Bates Stella May
Marta Heflin Edna Louise
Ann Risley Martha
Dianne Turley Travis Alice Ann
Ruth Miller Clarissa
Karen Black Joanne


Ed Graczyk originally wrote and directed Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean for the Players' Theater in Columbus, Ohio, which also produced it.[1] At the time of the Ohio production, he said of its development:

Broadway version[edit]

Jimmy Dean had a short run in New York City in 1980.[5] Early that same decade, while turning his attention from Hollywood to the stage, filmmaker Robert Altman acquired the rights to Graczyk's work.[3]:89 While securing options on another two works—The Hold-Up by Marsha Norman and The Diviners by Jim Leonard—he negotiated to direct Jimmy Dean on Broadway,[6]:126 with the intention to film it as a theatrical release.[nb 2] He also spent US$850,000 of his own money bringing it to Broadway.[3]:90[7]:26

During the casting process, Altman considered a role for Shelley Duvall, a star of his previous film Popeye. But, in his words, "the balance wasn't correct" this time around. Altman found out that pop singer Cher was in New York at the time, but he did not feel sure she would land a part. "If you're really serious," he advised her, "read for it." Thanks to his encouragement, she landed the part of the waitress Sissy—her first major role on stage.[6]:129–130[7]:26 Another of the performers, Karen Black, previously appeared in Altman's 1975 film Nashville.[7]:26

The first Broadway preview of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean took place on February 8, 1982 (which would have been the actor's 51st birthday if he had lived).[7] Between February 18 and April 4, 1982, it ran for 52 performances at the Martin Beck Theater.[8] Altman had requested that Graczyk delay collecting his royalties so that the production could run longer. Graczyk declined, later recalling that the actresses were not asked to make similar financial sacrifices.[9][10]

Some time later, Altman directed a film adaptation of the same name, which went on to win the Best Film Award at the Chicago International Film Festival.[11]


The Broadway version of Jimmy Dean was not well-received with critics.[3]:89 The New York Times' Frank Rich commented that "Neither the gimmicky plot nor its cliched participants are credible."[2] John Simon of New York Magazine wrote, "Although the play becomes a little less boring in the second act, it is too little too late, and at the cost of some whopping improbabilities. Hit-and-miss directorial bravura and an expensive production are not enough to justify so much ado."[12]


  1. ^ Reata was the family ranch where both the book and film versions of Giant took place.
  2. ^ Altman stated that "the initial press report that it was made for cable is not true".[6]:129


  1. ^ a b c d Erskine, Thomas L.; Welsh, James Michael; Tibbetts, John C. (2000). "Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1976)". Video Versions: Film Adaptations of Plays on Video. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 60–61. ISBN 0-313-30185-9. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d Rich, Frank (1982-02-19). "STAGE: ROBERT ALTMAN DIRECTS CHER". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d O'Brien, Daniel (1995). Robert Altman: Hollywood Survivor. New York: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-0791-9. 
  4. ^ "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean: The Playwright". Saint Louis University ( Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
  5. ^ Hirschhorn, Joel (2004-10-18). "Stage review of Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
  6. ^ a b c Plecki, Gerard (1985). Robert Altman. Boston: Twayne Publishers (G.K. Hall & Company/ITT). ISBN 0-8057-9303-8. 
  7. ^ a b c d Allen, Jennifer (1982-02-01). "Cher and Altman On Broadway". New York Magazine. New York Media LLC. 15 (5). Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
  8. ^ "Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean". Internet Broadway Database (IBDB). The Broadway League. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  9. ^ Graczyk, Ed (playwriting and screenwriter) (November 11, 2014). Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Blu-Ray): Interview with Playwright Ed Gracyzk. Olive Films. 
  10. ^ "'Jimmy Dean' Will End After Sunday's Matinee". The New York Times. March 30, 1982. Retrieved December 13, 2014. 
  11. ^ Graczyk, Ed (1989). A Murder of Crows: A Play in Two Acts. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 0-573-69111-8. 
  12. ^ Simon, John (1982-03-01). "The Deans' September". New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. 15 (9): 74–75. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 


  • Graczyk, Ed (1982). Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean: A Comedy-Drama. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 0-573-60764-8. 

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